SchoolArts Magazine and Art:21 Art in the Twenty-First Century: Present Contemporary Art for the Classroom

Article excerpt

Contemporary art speaks directly to the important questions of our time, as well as to the changing landscape of American identity. It is both a mirror of contemporary society and a window through which to view and deepen our understanding of American life as it exists now.

Contemporary Art for the Classroom

Reflecting the current interests, concerns, and ideas of a diverse nation, contemporary art is relevant to all subject areas and disciplines. Contemporary artists find inspiration from a wide range of sources. Their work draws connections between visual art and science, technology, history, humanities, language arts, math, psychology, and beyond. Who are today's artists? What are they thinking about? How do they describe their work? Why do they do what they do? And how can their ideas be incorporated into the classroom? These are some of the questions addressed in Art:21--Art in the Twenty-First Century.

Art:21--Art in the Twenty-First Century

Art:21 is a PBS series and educational organization that presents intimate portraits of living artists through conversations about their lives, work, sources of inspiration, and working processes to public audiences, teachers, and students nationwide. Art:21 features a diverse range of emerging and established artists working in the United States today--men and women from a wide range of cultural, religious, and geographic backgrounds. These artists reflect the diversity of the students in our classrooms, the people in our communities, the circles of our friends and families.

To extend the critical conversations presented in the series into classrooms, homes, and communities across the country and around the world, Art:21 creates a variety of resources for teachers and public audiences.

Season Two of Art:21 Features

* Two, 2-hour programs premiere September 9 & 10 on PBS. Check local listings for broadcast details.

* Web site and Online Lesson Library (

* Free Educators' Guide (request printed copies or download online at /art21/edu)

* Companion Book (available where books are sold)

* VHS Box Set (available from Davis Publications at and PBS Video at

* Slide sets of featured Art:21 artists (available from Davis Slides at www.davis

* A wide range of Outreach Programs and Initiatives

Artists Speak

In partnership with School Arts magazine, Art:21 presents Artists Speak, a monthly feature that introduces a contemporary artist through his or her words and artwork. In addition to learning about the artist, featured discussion questions and activities introduce students to their work and present opportunities to integrate their art and ideas into the classroom.

Art:21 Themes

Curated like an art exhibition, each one-hour program is loosely structured around a theme--a broad category that can help students analyze, compare, and contrast diverse artists. In many cases, the work by featured artists is relevant to more than one, or even all, of the themes.


Many artists tell stories--fictional, autobiographical, satirical, or fantastical--in their work. The artists featured in Stories do so through installation art, sculpture, painting, printmaking, and drawing, inspired by sources as diverse as architecture, literature, mythology history, and fairytales. Working in a variety of materials, these four artists provoke us to think about our own stories, the characters and caricatures, the morals and messages, and the beginnings and endings that define our real and imagined lives.

Trenton Doyle Hancock (featured in this issue) creates collages, drawings, and prints that present a cast of characters who struggle between forces of good and evil. Kiki Smith (featured in the January 2004 issue) makes sculptures, drawings, and prints that transform Biblical and mythological sources into personalized narratives. …